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Stanley Cup Final

Golden Knights-Capitals Cup Final finds Fleury facing familiar foe

Vegas goalie gets unexpected meeting with Ovechkin one season after leaving Penguins

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Marc-Andre Fleury, like nearly everyone else, assumed that he left a special NHL rivalry in the rearview mirror when he moved from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Goodbye, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Not so fast.

"I thought I was done with them for a little bit," Fleury said, smiling. "I guess not."

 

[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage | Stanley Cup Final schedule]

 

The Capitals and Golden Knights will play Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The Capitals are in the Cup Final for the second time. They also made it 20 years ago when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. The Golden Knights are in the Cup Final in their inaugural season.

Fleury is playing some of the best hockey of his NHL career; the 33-year-old is -3 in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a 1.68 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and four shutouts.

This will be Fleury's third playoff series as the starter against the Capitals. Last season with the Penguins, in the Eastern Conference Second Round, he had a 2.58 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and one shutout in seven games. 

Video: Is Fleury the front-runner for the Conn Smythe?

The shutout came in Game 7, a 2-0 win when Fleury made 29 saves, including a brilliant stick save on Ovechkin with 3:53 left in the second period when it was 1-0. 

In 2009, Fleury and the Penguins won another seven-game series against the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup, Fleury's first.

On Thursday, Fleury was asked a number of questions about Ovechkin and some of those highlight-reel saves against the Capitals.

"His shot, that's what makes him so good," Fleury said. "His one-timer and his wrister, both of them are very tough, very fast and quick. It'll be a challenge.

"He's always tough on the goalies because he has such a great shot. He brings the best out of me and everybody else."

Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said, "[Ovechkin] is a horse, a big-bodied guy that makes plays."

Video: Ovechkin reaches his first Stanley Cup Final

Schmidt would know, having been a teammate of Ovechkin's, playing 200 games with the Capitals from 2013-17.

Fleury is 22-12-2 in 38 regular-season games against the Capitals but didn't completely buy into the theory that his years of familiarity with them would give him a sizable advantage.

"Yes and no," he said. "Those guys are so talented and skilled that they don't do the same [thing] all the time. I think you cannot read into too much what you've seen before."

There is no shortage of compelling plots and subplots when it comes to the Golden Knights and Capitals. Fleury will be going for a personal three-peat after winning the Stanley Cup the previous two seasons with the Penguins.

"It's a great storyline for the NHL," Vegas defenseman Luca Sbisa said. "The Capitals have been trying to get [back] to the Final for a long time. A guy like Ovechkin hasn't been in the Final in his 13 years. He's been such a big person for the sport and done so much. For us, it's an expansion team in the Final.

"Who would have thought? If you're a movie producer, there's a lot of things you could be happy about."

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